#LoveOzLit: Barry Maitland on how dialogue changes

LoveOzLit: Barry Maitland on dialogue and how it changes

Dialogue is how you’re going to find your best friend in a book or find your heart in your mouth as the main character barrels down towards certain danger.

When dialogue works like this it just works, and you know the characters without needing an entire backstory to fill in the blanks, as Barry Maitland describes above.

But here’s the thing, especially in regards to the clipped, short tones mentioned in the quote above: what happens if there’s too much of it? When every sentence is a half sentence, with a word or two missing? I’ve read one too many action thrillers like this, and for me at least, the key to keeping the tension going is to use this sort of dialogue sparingly, because it drives me nuts otherwise.

Has dialogue like this ever annoyed you or taken you right out of the rhythm of a story? Or, has it succeed and kept you engrossed entirely?

1 Comment

  • I can see what you mean about clipped dialogue being annoying after awhile. I can’t think of any specific novel I’ve read but I DO think certain types of dialogue should be used sparingly. Yes, it might make the character more realistic, but it can also be difficult to read or make it harder for a reader to get into the groove of the story.

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